A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Liberals Browned Off!

Gordon Brown's a cheeky chappy. He grandly talks about (or actually is reported as talking about) forming a government of the greatest minds. That would be OK if we'd had a general election and no single party could muster the support necessary. However, he's just taking over from Blair, so requires no such grandiose planning.

Also, I though he and Ming were good pals. Not exactly good manners, let alone good politics. Thankfully, Lord Ashdown turned the Prime Minister-in-waiting down. If I were a Liberal Democrat, I would not think this a sound move. If I were Peter Hain, I'd marshall my supporters and find out what the clunking fist owner was really up to!

This whole episode does highlight one odd point about cabinet government in the UK. The Cabinet is basically a committee of the Privy Council, although New Labour tinkering has caused a few creaks to enter the constitutional fabric. Any Prime Minister can ask anybody to serve. All he requires is the confidence to advise the Queen that he commands the support of "the majority of his peers in the House of Commons" and that the person is, or will be, a Privy Counsellor. Interestingly, a cabinet member need not be a member of either house of Parliament. Patrick Gordon Walker was Foreign Secretary in 1964 having lost his seat in Smethwick. But his inability to win the subsequent Leyton by-election of January 1965 sealed his fate as a long-term cabinet member. Harold Wilson was forced to accept that the public would not accept someone outside Parliament, neither would the majority of parliamentarians.


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